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Climate comments push open-access publisher to terminate journal

Posted on behalf of Andy Extance.

A German academic publisher that has journals of respected scientific societies among its titles has announced that it shut down its journal Pattern Recognition in Physics, citing what it calls nepotistic reviewing and malpractice. The firm, Copernicus Publications of Göttingen, Germany, was responding to a recent special issue on ‘solar variability’. “The special issue editors ultimately submitted their conclusions in which they ‘doubt the continued, even accelerated, warming as claimed by the IPCC project,'” the publisher wrote in its statement.

The move has quickly attracted the ire of climate-change sceptics. “I’m shocked at this censorship of science,” responded Roger Tattersall on his blog after the decision on Friday. Tattersall, a web-content editor at the School of Education of the University of Leeds, UK, has published papers in the journal and has served as one of its referees.

But Copernicus also cited concerns over how the troublesome special issue‘s authors reached their conclusion regarding the role of solar variability. Author names recur frequently on different papers, and Copernicus’ ‘public peer review’ reveals the same names again as editors and reviewers. “The editors selected the referees on a nepotistic basis, which we regard as malpractice in scientific publishing,” Copernicus asserted. Nature has requested comments from the editors of the now-defunct journal.

The journal was controversial from its outset, thanks partly to the two co-editors-in-chief, Sid-Ali Ouadfeul, from the Algerian Petroleum Institute in Boumerdès, and geophysicist Nils-Axel Morner, formerly of Stockholm University, but now retired.

In July 2013, Scholarly Open Access, a watchdog blog written by Jeffrey Beall, a Colorado librarian, warned that Ouadfeul had few journal citations to his name, and pointed to Morner’s reputation as a climate sceptic. Beall also saw a similar pattern to the special issue. “The journal so far contains only five articles: two articles by a co-editor (Ouadfeul), two by climate sceptics whose views align with the other editor (Morner), and one article bearing a significant amount of self-plagiarism,” he wrote at the time.

Copernicus, whose journals include titles published on behalf of scientific societies such as the European Geosciences Union, will keep the controversial papers available online, its statement said, but it now wants to “distance itself from the apparent misuse of the originally agreed aims and scope of the journal”.

Comments

  1. Report this comment

    giordano bruno said:

    The burning of the journal Pattern Recognition in Physics is just the last of a long series of actions to suppress not only the scientific freedoms and the academic independence, but even the simple freedom of speech.
    Because of one inconveniently true sentence in a paper commenting how the lack of measured warming is casting “doubt” on “the continued, even accelerated, warming as claimed by the IPCC project” the journal has been terminated by the publisher.
    The only truth about global warming is that there has been no measured warming over the last 16 years in the global air temperature of the land and the sea surface, the same global air temperature over the last century have been more naturally oscillating than following the carbon dioxide emission, there has been no warming and no change of salinity of the oceans 0 to 2000 metres depth over the first 10 years these parameters have been measured.
    The forced consensus about global warming is clearly an integral part of the plans for a “New World Order” that may be unlocked only by the “threat of environmental crisis” used as the “international disaster key”. No global warming would mean that the lovers of new world orders could have to consider other global battles for their “cause”, and the burning of one journal, or one more threat to the scientific freedom, is only one necessary step.
    After having read on Nature about the most unrealistic development of climate change, from the 4 C by 2100 adding the cloud effect to the already overrating climate models, to the spot of the most accelerated warming in the actually cooling Antarctica, I would love to see the free scientific debate about global warming finally back to the pages of this journal.

  2. Report this comment

    Roger Tattersall said:

    As editor on the PRP publication, I would like to raise a couple of poits regarding this action by Copernicus’ Martin Rasmussen.

    1) There was no prior contact from Copernicus to indicate any concerns they had bfore the preremptory closure of the Journal. Professional courtesy would normally result in a discussion to overcome percieved or ‘potential’ problems.

    2) Perhaps the reason for 1) is that the primary reason the journal was shut down was not for any problem with review, but, according to Martin Rasmussen:
    “We were alarmed by the authors’ second implication stating “This sheds serious doubts on the issue of a continued, even accelerated, warming as claimed by the IPCC project”. Before the journal was launched, we had a long discussion regarding its topics. The aim of the journal was to publish articles about patterns recognized in the full spectrum of physical disciplines. PRP was never meant to be a platform for climate sceptics.”

    The problem with 2) is that the statement Martin Rasmussen was alarmed about was a simple deduction from the scientific conclusions reached in the papers comprising the special edition.

    3) Martin Rasmussen has still not clarified what he means by: “we also received information about potential misconduct during the review process.”
    What are they, who made the allegations?
    Martin Rasmussen later updated this on the PRP website saying: “the editors selected the referees on a nepotistic basis”

    Please could Martin Rasmussen clarify his vague allegations and obscure use of language so we can respond and defend ourselves.

  3. Report this comment

    Ross Mounce` said:

    Contrary to Roger Tatershall’s quote: ““I’m shocked at this censorship of science,”

    There has been no censorship here – ALL the full articles in question are still available to view here: http://www.pattern-recogn-phys.net/volumes_and_issues.html

    The publisher has done the responsible thing and withdrawn its support for what has been published and has explained this decision well and with justification. But it has NOT been censored, and they have NOT removed content from existence on the web. I would have hoped the author of this news piece would have interrogated the validity of the quotes he used.

  4. Report this comment

    giordano bruno said:

    The burning of the journal Pattern Recognition in Physics is just the last of a long series of actions to suppress not only the scientific freedoms and the academic independence, but even the simple freedom of speech. Because of one inconveniently true sentence in one paper commenting how the lack of measured warming is casting “doubt” on “the continued, even accelerated, warming as claimed by the IPCC project” all the journal has been terminated by the publisher.
    The only truth about global warming is that there has been no measured warming over the last 16 years in the global air temperature of the land and the sea surface, the same global air temperature over the last century has been more naturally oscillating than following the carbon dioxide emission, there has been no warming and no change of salinity of the oceans 0 to 2000 metres depth over the first 10 years these parameters have been measured.
    The forced consensus about global warming is unfortunately for science an integral part of the plans for a “New World Order” that may be “unlocked” only by the “threat of environmental crisis” used as the “international disaster key” (words in italics by Mikhail Gorbachev). After having read on Nature about the most unrealistic development of climate change, from the 4 ºC by 2100 adding the cloud effect to the already overrating climate models, to the spot of faster warming on earth in the actually cooling Antarctica, to the justification of bringing journalists to get trapped in the ices of Antarctica as a proper use of tax payers moneys, I would love to see the free scientific debate about global warming finally back to the pages of this prestigious journal.

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